Mean Girls (& Guys)

Hollywood’s portrayal of high school convinces us to push through the drama, bitch fights and angst that afflict teenagers because matriculation promises us sunshine, rainbows and maturity. We are led to believe that with the end of our secondary education, we will be liberated from the less glamorous aspects of adolescence we’ve all had to endure. As I’ve grown older however, I’m slowly beginning to realise that we never really graduate from bitchiness. This world is plagued by pests and parasites who feed off the happiness of others and jealousy is a beast that can consume even the kindliest of people.

On several occasions this week, I’ve listened to friends and family discuss events where pettiness and immaturity have caused more hurt than the perpetrator could have possibly envisaged. Insecurity is burden that everyone deals with; whether it relates to physical appearance, confidence in relationships or belief in one’s own ability. Part of growing up is confronting the issues that breed insecurity and in overcoming them, you develop an intrinsic confidence that paves the way for maturity. I was often reassured as a teenager that many of the difficulties I faced, which often arose from cliquey behaviour, were perfectly normal. These problems would fade with time and eventually the Regina Georges of the world would disperse.

Film Title: Mean Girls.

To an extent, this was correct. I was blissfully content in my final year of school. Having spent seven years with the same year group, we collectively exhausted all means of drama and with the knowledge that we would soon be replacing our perfect little Buckinghamshire bubbles with the big wide world, we made the most of each other’s company and even now, I look back on those times with nothing but nostalgia and fondness. It has occurred to me since however, that it was only truly when we realised how lucky we were and how quickly this would pass, that we put juvenile theatrics aside in favour of wishing well for each other. It seems as though an absence of this time pressure stops people from embodying positivity and instead, they digress into the same trivialities that we would rather leave behind. The darkest characteristics of human nature (jealousy, unhealthy competition, spite…) become woefully apparent and as opposed to focusing energy on their own well-being, people drift into the affairs of others and create trouble unnecessarily.

This holds true throughout our lives. The most fearsome of personalities seem to subside with age, as the greatest form of time pressure presents itself. Although the eldest generation cannot deny an interest in the latest gossip, they seem to have a wider appreciation of what is worth discussion and what is insignificant, whilst younger generations may be engrossed by it all. Eleanor Roosevelt quite rightly said, “great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Many young minds are, in this sense, small minds. We will often take simple situations, blow them out of proportion and then assign blame to those involved rather than taking a step back and looking on with even an ounce of perspective. We are also drawn to other people with similar interests and dislikes and bitching is often used as a conversation starter. I know I am guilty of discussing individuals when I shouldn’t have but I now wonder how mortified I would be if I knew that a mutual dislike of me was bringing two people closer together.

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I realise I’m being rather vague. Details may identify individuals, which isn’t what I want, and whilst my blogs are usually commentaries on things I’ve observed, I realise this is turning into a bit of a rant. Of everyone I know, there are only two individuals who have made me this cynical – but the past few years have shown me that the actions or words of just one person can destroy the trust, security and confidence of another with far too much ease. What you think you say in confidence can quickly spread (as many of us have learnt the hard way) but I find a lot of comfort in the concept of karma and a staunch belief that what goes around, comes around.

This blog hasn’t amounted to anything really and there isn’t a particular conclusion to be drawn, so instead I’ll leave you with (1) a plea to inject more thought into any words and actions that relate to others and (2) the cleverness of someone infinitely wiser than any of us:

“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on the face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it. A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl, The Twits.

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